Avalanche kills Telluride backcountry skier

TELLURIDE, Colo. — A backcountry skier was killed in a snowboarder-released avalanche in the Bear Creek Preserve area in Telluride, the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday.

Rescuers began searching for 47-year-old Salvadore Garcia-Atance on Tuesday with the help of avalanche dogs and resumed the search on Wednesday.

More than two dozen search and rescue crews and two Telluride Ski Patrol avalanche dog teams were used, and Telluride Helitrax conducted an air search.

Garcia-Atance was found near the creek above the boulder at the top of Bear Creek about 11:30 a.m.

“Of course this is not the outcome any of us were hoping for and on behalf of myself and all of us involved in this mission, we extend our sincerest condolences to Mr. Garcia-Atance’s family,” San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters said.

The slide happened between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. Tuesday. It ran about 75 wide and left a debris field 300 feet long and 15 to 20 feet deep.

Garcia-Atance was skinning up Bear Creek Trail having started from the trailhead in Telluride.

Bear Creek Trail has reopened, but new snow is expected and avalanche dangers will continue.

“Whether you are walking your dog, skinning up or backcountry skiing, Bear Creek is not a safe place to be,” Masters said.

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